Finally, a recipe that you can make days before Thanksgiving. Easy make-ahead cranberry sauce. You literally have no excuse to serve cranberry sauce out of a can when it only takes 15 minutes and 3 ingredients to make it homemade and so delicious. This is the easiest and most stress-free Thanksgiving recipe ever.
To make this classic Thanksgiving sauce, you will need to gather these simple ingredients (full quantities in recipe card below):
- orange juice - this adds a really nice flavour that balances out the tangy cranberries.
- granulated sugar - you could also use brown sugar
- cranberries - I used fresh cranberries, but you can easily use frozen.
- pinch of cinnamon - this is an optional ingredient, but it adds a nice warming fall flavour.
You will also need a small saucepan.
How to Make the Best Make-Ahead Cranberry Sauce
So there are basically 3 simple steps. That's right, 3 steps.
- Dissolve the sugar. The first step is to heat the orange juice and the sugar until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to boil.
- Add cranberries. The second step is so add the cranberries and allow the mixture returns to a boil and simmer on low. When the mixture is simmering, you will notice a popping sound. This is because cranberries "pop" or burst when heated. Just be careful to avoid any any splashing when the cranberries burst. Once the cranberries have burst, you can add a pinch of cinnamon (optional).
- Chill the cranberry sauce. Remove from heat and mash with the back of a spoon until desired consistency is reached. Let mixture cool at room temperature. Then, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.
How to Serve Easy Make-Ahead Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is a staple for Thanksgiving dinner, along with a whole roast turkey (or turkey breast) and gravy, and all the classic Thanksgiving side dishes. Some of my favourites are creamy mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, garlic green beans, cornbread stuffing, and roasted fall harvest vegetables.
Some of our other favourite sides to serve in the fall and during the holidays are:
How to Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce
When I host Thanksgiving dinner, I usually make double the amount of cranberry sauce, because I find it's always better to have extra than to run out. Plus, when you make extra, it means that there are always leftovers, which makes for the best leftover cranberry sauce recipes. Here are some ways I use up leftover cranberry sauce:
- Make delicious baked goods such as cranberry sauce oat bars, leftover cranberry sauce muffins with oat streusel topping, and cranberry sauce swirl pound cake.
- Serve it for breakfast over top of pancakes with a side of whipped cream, as a jam spread over toast, or on top of cinnamon and walnut porridge.
- Spread it in a sandwich with leftover turkey and make leftover thanksgiving turkey sandwich.
- Add it to yogurt and granola and make a parfait.
How to Store
More Thanksgiving Recipes
- 15 Leftover Cranberry Sauce Recipes
- Easy Thanksgiving Dinner Menu
- Small Thanksgiving Menu for Four
- 50 Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- 15 Thanksgiving Bread Recipes
- 25 Best Thanksgiving Desserts
Did you make this recipe? I would greatly appreciate a comment and rating below, letting me know what you thought of the recipe. You can also snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.
This recipe was first published in 2016. It has been completely updated with new photographs and tips.Print
Take the stress out of the holidays and prepare easy make-ahead cranberry sauce days before the big holiday dinner.
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 8 oz. cranberries, fresh or frozen
- pinch of cinnamon (optional)
- In a medium saucepan, pour in the orange juice and add sugar. Cook on high until the mixture boils. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Add the cranberries and bring mixture back to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 10 minutes, until the most of the cranberries burst.
- Once the cranberries have burst, add a pinch of cinnamon (optional).
- Remove from heat and mash with the back of a spoon until desired consistency is reached.
- Let mixture cool at room temperature. Then, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Sauce
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: easy make-ahead cranberry sauce, easy cranberry sauce, quick cranberry sauce, homemade cranberry sauce, make-ahead cranberry sauce, how to make cranberry sauce